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Ethiopia: Report from Dollo Ado

I am back in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and I’m covered in a layer of red dirt and my hair resembles a bird’s nest. I look a bit out of place in this Addis restaurant with its well-dressed city folk.

I just had my first proper meal in several days. It was lovely. Ok I’ll be honest, it wasn’t terribly good but it really hit the spot.

Most people are observing the Ramadan fast in Dollo Ado, which means it wasn’t easy to get food, especially during the day.

There are some restaurants that are open but most had hygiene standards that made me ask myself how hungry I really was. I was worried that my Western stomach might not be able to handle the flora in the food/water.

In the field

When I could no longer hold out I double-checked that I had a round of Cipro on me before reaching for the injera (local bread) and tibs (Ethiopian fried meat dish). For the most part, I subsisted on granola bars, beef jerky and dried mangoes which is actually pretty nice.

Unfortunately that diet doesn’t ever make you feel full and you burn through all of that pretty quickly with the long hours we work in emergencies.

People are sometimes surprised to hear that there are restaurants in Dollo Ado. I remind them that people have walked to Dollo Ado in order to find food for themselves and their children.

Eight days of walking

I met a woman and her six children at one of our feeding centers. They had just arrived from Somalia after eight days of walking. She had given birth to her youngest child on the journey.

As I watched them, I tried to imagine what it would be like to walk through the intense heat and sand for eight days. I had so many questions for her. I wanted to know her story but she had just walked eight days and given birth to a child, it just didn’t feel right to bother her.

On the other hand, I was really curious as to how she knew to come here so I only asked one question. I asked how she came to Dollo Ado. It’s not like there are signposts in the sandy red landscape pointing the way here.

Heartbroken

Also, there were other places she could have walked to. Other camps, some possibly closer to where she had come from. She told me that on her way here she had met other people who were walking to find food and they had told her to come to this area because there were better camps with food and services to help them.

Part of me was heartbroken imagining what they had been through and knowing what still remains ahead of them as refugees. But another part of me was glad that the camps at Dollo Ado were considered to be places where they could get the assistance they needed.

This post was written by Hana Crowe, Save the Children Monitoring and Evaluation Advisor, Ethiopia

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